The idea of a sky that is alive with flying cars is one that is often met by thoughts of hoverboards, holograms and time travel. It's always been a very romantic notion, but is there any tangible substance to flying cars in real life? Slovakian company AeroMobil think so and are aiming to have one on your drive by 2017.
The goal of having a production ready flying car in 2017 isn't just plucked out of the air either, talking at SXSW the CEO of AeroMobil – Juraj Vaculik – outlined the company's future goals based on a host of fully functioning prototypes that have already taken to the skies.
Currently operating in the form of AeroMobil 3.0, the prototype vehicle is a peculiar entity to behold. With the folding wings set to road, the AeroMobil's top structure is reminiscent of a grasshopper; the wings sitting very neatly atop the vehicle and the propeller siting fairly ominously between the brake lights – it'd certainly be a spectacle out on the road. With the touch of a button, however, the fully automated wings unfold themselves like and swing outwards – at this point the AeroMobil doesn't look quite as strange. Watching the official AeroMobil 3.0 video, it's hard to not find the vehicle oddly mesmerising and exciting.
Regardless of the working prototypes, three years to create a production ready vehicle is quite a tall order; the company currently face the difficult task of finding a material that is strong enough to pass road safety crash tests but is still light enough for flight. They will then have to tackle all of the stringent regulations of both road vehicles and aircraft.
The question remains though – would you actually buy one? You'll need a pilot's license to fly it and you'll still have to drive it to your nearest airstrip or airport before you can take off (although Vaculik talks of creating grass runways at the side of every highway once the production version has become more mainstream).
Probably the hardest mountain to overcome, at least at the start of production, is going to be the price; despite not being officially stated, it is acceptable to make the assumption that it'll be expensive – typically, aircraft don't come cheap, especially ones made almost entirely from carbon fibre.
Despite the potential setbacks, AeroMobil's ambitions don't stop at just creating the world's first production flying car; they also plan on creating a four seat family hybrid, extending the range from 430-miles, and a completely autonomous variant that'd require no pilot to ever touch the controls. Whilst these plans may seem like quite a long shot at the moment, AeroMobil are currently at the forefront of flying car technology – it'll certainly be interesting to see where the future takes this project.